Pro Bono Project Staff

Sandra Madrigal

Executive Director

Sandra has over 18 years of leading local non-profits in Silicon Valley and Northern California. Her main objectives have been creating organizational vision, developing strategic plans, board development, and raising significant capital. Her expertise is in grant writing and major gifts where she helped to raise $1.6 Million for United Way Silicon Valley. She also served as the Executive Director for the Woodland Healthcare Foundation where she led a successful multi-million dollar capital campaign. Sandra’s successes have been recognized by our community. She received a Commendation from former Vice Mayor Cindy Chavez and a congressional recognition from Congressmen Mike Honda through her work with the Third Street Community Center. Most recently, Sandra has worked both as a coach and consultant for several Silicon Valley non-profits. Sandra is a local professional who grew up in San Jose and graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz.

Catherine Connor

Staff Attorney

At Pro Bono Project, Catherine serves works with domestic violence survivors and returning community members with their non-criminal restraining order, divorce, custody, and visitation matters. In addition, she advises clients on some civil issues. She also represents domestic violence survivors in family law court. Catherine was previously a staff attorney at the downtown San Jose Family Justice Center Courthouse where she assisted over 900 self-represented litigants who drafted family law motions and prepared other court documents. Her background includes drafting QDROs as well as analyzing community and separate financial interests in stock option accounts. Prior to and during law school, Catherine volunteered as a certified mediator in Small Claims Court and wrote articles on the effects of Proposition 47 on jail populations and public funding. She received her J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law and her B.A. in English with a minor in music from the University of California, Berkeley. In her teens and early twenties, Catherine trained as a classical lyric soprano and taught herself gospel and pop music. As someone born quadriplegic, Catherine was very motivated to find a job she “could do” in order to access her physical and social environment as equally as possible to her able-bodied peers. As an attorney, Catherine is motivated in making that her clients and community members have access to our judicial system so that they may be awarded equal rights and protections as provided by our laws.

Lisa Cope Duflock

Staff Attorney

Lisa is an attorney in Re-Entry Services, providing assistance in many areas to individuals following incarceration. She also provides domestic violence survivors with assistance obtaining domestic violence restraining orders and with family court matters. Lisa is very connected to the local community, volunteering at many agencies in Santa Clara County over 20 years, including Sunday Friends and Sacred Heart Community Services. Prior to joining the Pro Bono Project, Lisa worked as a research attorney and was a long term volunteer for the Eviction Clinic at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley. Lisa graduated from Occidental College with an A.B. in Political Science, received her J.D. Summa Cum Laude from Santa Clara University, and recently earned an M.A. in History from San Jose State University.

Elizabeth Esparza

Resource Manager

Elizabeth joined the Pro Bono Project in December 2004. She has attended San Jose City College. Elizabeth has done what no one has successfully done before — organized the reception position to meet all the demands of clients, staff, and volunteers. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and English.

Phoenix Forbes

Legal Program Coordinator

Phoenix is a Santa Clara County native who received her B.A. in Counseling Psychology from John F. Kennedy University. Phoenix has twenty years of experience serving survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. She has been providing legal services since 2005, supporting clients through the criminal, civil, and family court systems. Phoenix is an active member of the domestic violence community and has served as Secretary and Co-Chair of the Legal Committee of the DV Consortium, and Co-Chair of the Family Justice Center Victim Services Committee. Phoenix was one of the founding partners at the North Santa Clara County Family Justice Center, and an integral part of its operation for five years. In 2019, Phoenix received the Santa Clara County DV Council’s Outstanding Advocate Award, and a Certificate of Recognition from the California Legislature Assembly.

Kenneth S. A. Grant

Supervising Attorney, Parentage Project / Re-Entry Client Services

Kenneth completed a B.A. at the University of Denver, a J.D. at the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law, and a M. St. at the University of Oxford, Wadham College. Kenneth is fluent in Russian and proficient in German. He has been an employee of the Pro Bono Project since December 2001. Kenneth started with the Project as a volunteer with the paternity program, and is currently the managing attorney for paternity cases and a supervising attorney for Re-Entry Client Services.

Rachel McKenzie

Managing Attorney, Pro Bono Project Litigation

Born and raised in Santa Clara County, Rachel received her B.A. with honors from University of California, Santa Cruz, and her J.D. with distinction in Litigation from Golden Gate University, School of Law in San Francisco.
Since 2017, Rachel has been with the Pro Bono Project Silicon Valley. She is the Managing Attorney. Pro Bono Project is the second largest legal aid non-profit in the county. Prior to bringing knowledge, change, and growth to the Pro Bono Project, Rachel was a Judicial Attorney II at the Superior Court of Santa Cruz County. During this time, she held the Position of President of the Board of the California Family Law Facilitators Association and was an active board member for three years.
Rachel has practiced Family Law her entire legal career and is committed to helping correct the injustices members of our community face daily. Lately, that focus has become more of a passion. Rachel was previously the chair of the Santa Clara County Domestic Violence Conference Committee for three years and remains on the committee. She sits on numerous county and statewide committees working for legal and social justice and systemic reform, especially as it surrounds Intimate Partner Violence.
Rachel is a trained mediator and has a successful record reaching compromise, progress, and inclusion. As a devoted advocate, Rachel has received her certification from Cornell University in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), allowing her to bring more knowledge and skill to the table when establishing, discussion, and promoting DEI in the workplace, whether civically or corporately.
In her free time, Rachel loves to read, write, garden, and travel.

Andrew J. Messersmith

Attorney Virtual Legal Services Program

Andrew oversees the Virtual Legal Services Program, providing pro bono services to low income clients using virtual clinics. Andrew began his legal career in private practice in New York focusing on criminal defense, and family law. In 2015, Andrew was appointed as the first full-time Assistant Public Defender in Washington County, New York and represented clients in misdemeanor and felony matters including trials and appellate work. Since arriving in California, Andrew has represented clients in Family and Civil Court in Santa Clara County including divorce, custody, visitation, domestic violence restraining order, and civil restraining order matters. Andrew graduated Cum Laude from the State University of New York, College at Oneonta, and received his Juris Doctor degree from Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law with a concentration in Intellectual Property. Andrew also studied Business and E-commerce Law at the University College Cork in Cork, Ireland. Andrew is admitted to practice law in California and New York.

Nancy Williamson

Staff Attorney

Nancy joined the Pro Bono Project in September 2019. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work from San Francisco State University, a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from San Jose State University, and a law degree from the University of Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. She then opened her own law office specializing in estate planning, trust administration, probate and conservatorships.